It has been a year of uncertainty and with election season in full swing, you may find yourself experiencing a plethora of strong emotions. Whether you are feeling anxiety, anger, or apathy, the following seven steps will help you to navigate your emotions without losing peace, poise, or equilibrium.
1. Release Resistance
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle said that “It may look as if the situation is creating suffering, but ultimately this is not so, your resistance is.” No matter who turns out to be the next president, regardless of which political party wins the Senate, and irrespective of personal political affiliations, all situations are inherently neutral. Opposition to the way that life unfolds is the only thing that can disrupt your peace of mind.
At its core, resistance is nothing more than an inner fight against what already is. When the mind is engaged in a fight, the part of the brain responsible for processing fear, the amygdala, floods the body with stress hormones, shuts down verbal processing centers, increases heart rate, and narrows focus.
By fully accepting the present moment exactly as it is, you free your energy from “amygdala hijacking” and enable the ability to discern many perspectives, see multiple options, and access the brain’s complex decision-making network in the prefrontal cortex.
2. Recognize What You Can Control
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl maintained that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” While it is true that you cannot alter election results, change a child’s errant behavior, or magically make traffic flow, you still are free to decide how you will behave in response to these events.
For example, you can choose whether to participate in local politics or tune out the political scene altogether, offer your child a kind word or a firm boundary, or drive an alternate route to work, or listen to an inspirational audiobook during the longer-than-usual commute. By focusing on the aspects of your environment that are within your locus of control, you can take responsibility for your circumstances no matter what the world may throw your way.
3. Revitalize in Nature
Nature can teach you a lot about how to maintain balance during trying times. If you’ve ever observed a tree during a storm, you have likely noticed how the roots remained anchored while the branches swayed. Likewise, during the storms of your life, and currently during the election frenzy, it is important to remain anchored through grounding personal practices and positive connection to others while simultaneously being flexible enough to bend and sway with the unexpected.
In addition to being a silent teacher, nature can revitalize on the physical level too. Connecting to the earth discharges accumulated positive ions and allows the electrical system of the body to recharge. The earth literally absorbs your negativity and leaves you with a clean energetic slate. By taking a few deep breaths outside, observing the rising or setting sun, or planting your feet in the damp grass, you can revitalize your body and restore your positive spirit.
4. Revamp Your Routines
The daily routines that you establish can either anchor or unbalance you. By creating nourishing routines, especially during the Kapha periods of the day (6:00-10:00 a.m. and 6:00-10:00 p.m.), you can set yourself up for maximum renewal with minimal effort.
Use the valuable morning hours to set the tone for your day. You might try yoga, meditation, inspirational reading, and a nourishing breakfast. In the evening, try winding down with a sunset hike, warm bath, guided meditation, or family game. Try to repeat the same sequence of activities each morning and evening to establish reliable habit patterns. Then when life gets stormy, when things don’t turn out as you had hoped, or when your expectations are not met, your healthy routines will carry you to fairer weather.
5. Renew Through Meditation
If ever there were a magic potion that could alleviate the stresses and strains of life, it would be meditation. Yet, for many people, meditation is a bit like eating their vegetables; people know they should do it, but most have not created a reliable practice.
If that sounds like you, don’t wait another day. Meditation is not difficult. It is as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Yes, thoughts will occur, but as soon as you notice them, just bring awareness back to your breath. In addition, meditating helps you sleep better, increasing productivity and protecting your DNA from damage.
Mediate anytime, anywhere with the Chopra App. Access guided meditations on the go from the well-being pioneers.
6. Reconnect to Your Values
While moving through personal challenges can seem like something to simply “get through,” there is a golden opportunity that only arises during these times. When facing adversity, you discover what you want the most and learn more about yourself in the process. Life has a way of revealing your highest values to you with great clarity.
Perhaps you feel strongly that a specific election outcome is the only way forward and yet you find yourself offering compassion to those with differing viewpoints (empathy overdrive). Or maybe you notice that spending time on social media leaves you feeling depleted while a nature hike feeds your soul (nature over social experiences). Identifying and personally embodying your highest values allows you to find joy in your own actions, at the microcosmic level, rather than searching for it in how others are expressing your values, at the macrocosmic level. As you move through difficulties, ask yourself, “What really matters to me in this situation?” Then align your actions with your highest values.
7. Reignite Your Passion
The activities that refuel your spirit, engage your mind, and nurture your body are your passions. The Latin root of the word “passion” actually means to suffer. In truth, you do suffer when you disconnect from your passions.
If you feel anxiety, agitation, or anger in response to the current political scene it is a sign that you need to reconnect to the activities that inspire your joy. You may find the lightness of passion in simple pursuits such as laughing with your children, playing in nature, appreciating the arts, or creating something new. Engaging in your passions is the direct opposite of numbing your mind with unfulfilling television viewing, mindless media surfing, or pre-election friction. Whether you cook up a lovely meal, dance to a favorite song, read an inspiring book, or listen to birds sing at dawn, bringing passion into your day creates a lasting joy that counterbalances the inevitable trials of life.
It is a given that you will experience challenges in life. Things will not always go the way you have planned, elections may or may not yield your desired outcomes, and you may find yourself in a state of uncertainty. Yet, by softening into discomfort, leaning into your values, igniting your passions, and receiving the support of nature, you will find that even the most formidable hurdles can become your biggest stepping-stones.